The Toronto Blue Jays announced their ALCS roster this afternoon making a couple of notable changes from last round.
— Barry Davis (@BarryDavis_) October 14, 2016
The two players that have been added to this series are speedy outfielder Dalton Pompey and utility infielder Ryan Goins. Pompey is an addition that Blue Jays fans have been clamoring for since the Wild Card against the Baltimore Orioles. As our own Shaun Doyle wrote, it’s for good reason stating the Blue Jays need Pompey. His speed on the basepaths is electric, and as a late game pinch runner could be the difference. Although this puts the Jays in a spot with 6 outfielders, each serves a different role. Bautista and Saunders are both able to DH, and Pompey will be used exclusively as a pinch runner in a tight game.
Ryan Goins being included speaks directly to the health of Devon Travis. If there is any regression in Travis’ knee or shoulder injuries, and he is required to take a game off, or be removed early, depth in the infield is a must. If Travis becomes unavailable at any point, having the extra infielder allows for the Jays to pinch hit for Barney, and still have the ability to slot in Goins as a defensive replacement. Goins bat is definitely not a point of focus here, but the flexibility of the roster will be. Goins can also be used as a late-game defensive substitution, and in a real pinch can even cover first base (Goins had one game there for the Jays this year).
The biggest omissions from the roster is that of Justin Smoak and Scott Feldman. Dropping Feldman is a decision that’s easy to make if the Jays are comfortable with the health of Francisco Liriano and Roberto Osuna. The extra reliever was a necessary evil after concerns with Osuna’s shoulder. With Osuna remaining on the roster and possibly being unavailable, a glut of pitchers was needed to cover innings in an emergency.
Despite Liriano not being eligible until after Friday’s game (as soon as MLB rules allow him to rejoin the team), the Blue Jays appear confident enough that he can jump in where he left off. Having a healthy slate of 7 relievers in addition to the possibility of using a starter in an extreme circumstance (see Clayton Kershaw) makes an eighth reliever redundant. When choosing who to cut Feldman was the obvious choice.
After being acquired post deadline, Feldman has significantly underperformed for the Jays. He would post a whopping 8.40 ERA and 1.933 WHIP losing the trust of the manager. No trust would result in Feldman not taking the mound since September 20th. The recent performance made him the easy choice to ride the pine against the Indians.
Justin Smoak’s omission was more a case where he was the victim of circumstance. The defensive flexibility of Goins would not have been required if Travis’ health was not in question. Without the needed flexibility, Smoak would be left as the best option for a bench bat. Outside of that, however, everything Smoak contributes is redundant. Any optimized line-up right now has either Bautista or Saunders slotting into the DH spot with Edwin manning first base. Smoak has not outperformed any of these three. In addition to that, his limited positional flexibility doesn’t allow the Jays to use him anywhere else. Hopefully, the Jays will move on and the team will gain more confidence in the health of Travis, (as many of our writers have predicted). If that’s the case Smoak may just make a triumphant return in the World Series.
All in all the Jays roster changes were minimal, but for the better. The added flexibility and the new weapon of Pompey’s speed make for a great roster headed into tonight’s game. You can also get a full preview of the first two games of the championship series here.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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